Why are Rear-End Collisions so Common?

Date: 07/13/2022

Author: Prime Law Group

Did you know that rear-end collisions are the most common road accident in Illinois?

While not as fatal as a head-on collision, rear-end collisions can still result in extensive injuries and damage. Although they are so common, rear-end collisions are also one of the most preventable types of car accidents. 

Have you been involved in a rear-end collision and want to make sure it never happens to you again? Or maybe you need some clarification around who’s at fault. 

In most cases, the rear driver is deemed the at-fault party. But there are some specific situations where partial fault may also lie with the vehicle in front. 

Keep reading to get clear on why rear-end collisions are so prevalent, the reasons they happen, and where liability might lie.

Too Little Following Distance

One of the leading causes of rear-end collisions is inadequate following distance. Drivers should keep a minimum of three to five seconds following distance behind other vehicles.

The faster you’re going, the greater the distance should be between your car and the vehicle up ahead. Unfortunately, many drivers maintain the same following distance when driving at high speeds as when driving slowly.

When traffic is thick, drivers often place themselves bumper to bumper. 

If the vehicle up ahead has to suddenly slow down or stop, the less following distance you have, the less time there is for you to halt your vehicle. 

If you cause a rear-end collision because you weren’t maintaining an adequate following distance, you will definitely be the at-fault party.

Road Rage and Driving Aggressively

Road rage and aggressive driving is another big risk factor for rear-end collisions. Drivers who get impatient or angry in traffic are likely to tailgate and keep next-to-no following distance. 

If you spot an impatient-looking driver behind you, they might tailgate you for a couple of miles until they get a gap to overtake. If you have to suddenly stop or reduce speed, there’s a high chance they might rear-end you. 

Texting and Distracted Driving

Besides tailgating, texting and distracted driving are two other leading causes of rear-end collisions. According to statistics, texting while driving ups your chances of a rear-end collision by a factor of 7.

Distracted driving of any kind slows your reaction times. If you’re concentrating on anything else other than the road, you might not even see the vehicle in front stopping until it’s too late.

Most types of distracted driving aren’t illegal. For instance, it’s not against the law to have a conversation with a passenger while driving. But, you should strive to maintain your primary focus on the road, and pay secondary focus to the conversation. 

Texting while driving is a different story. In Illinois, texting or speaking on the phone while driving is a violation. For a first offense, you can receive a fine, and repeated offenses will go against your driving record. 

If you were talking or texting on the phone before a rear-end collision, this will count against your case.


Fatigue is a common cause of all types of car accidents. If you’re fatigued, the best-case scenario is that your reaction time will be impaired.

In the worst-case scenario, you might actually doze off. If your vehicle doesn’t veer off the road, there’s a good chance it will run into the vehicle in front, especially if you’re driving on cruise control.

As we said above, the general rule of thumb for a rear-end collision is that the rear vehicle driver is at fault. If it can be proved that you were fatigued or fell asleep at the wheel, you’ll be doubly at fault. 

Unfortunately, a large percentage of drivers are fatigued while on the roads. Statistics show that 37% of working adults in the US get less than the recommended 7 hours of sleep. 

If you often feel drowsy during your commute drive, giving yourself a little more time to sleep is a wise move. Not only will it benefit your health, but it can also keep you and others safe out on the road.

Driving Under the Influence

Alcohol, substance abuse, and driving are a notoriously dangerous mix. It is one of the most common factors in fatal accidents

Alcohol, certain strong medications, and recreational drugs can impair one’s senses and cognitive ability. These substances can also wreak havoc with your reaction time. 

Drivers who are under the influence of alcohol, substances, or certain medications can also be inclined to over-confidence and reckless behavior.

To make things worse, impaired driving due to substance abuse often occurs at night. Driving after dark comes with its own inherent risks, as stats show drivers are 3x more likely to experience a fatal accident at night. Research also shows that 37% of car accident deaths at night are related to speed. 

If you were driving under the influence and went into the back of someone’s car, you should definitely hire a rear-end collision lawyer.

Alternatively, if you were on the receiving end of the rear-end collision, you should also look into getting legal help. Illinois law uses a modified comparative negligence standard when determining liability. If you can’t prove that all the liability lay with the rear driver, even if they were driving under the influence they might try to pin certain aspects of liability on you. 


It’s no secret that speed kills, and it’s another of the top causes of rear-end collisions. 

Authorities agree that average speed is directly related to the risk of crashes and car accident injury severity. The WHO states that each 1% speed increase results in a 3% increased likelihood of a serious crash and a 4% likelihood of a fatal crash. 

The faster the speed you’re traveling at, the less time there is to adjust if a vehicle up ahead slows down. If you can’t compensate in time, this could result in a very serious rear-end collision.


Fog can significantly increase the risk of accidents, especially rear-end collisions. One study from a few years ago found that rear-end collisions were the most common type of fog-related crashes. 

Fog can impair your ability to see vehicles up ahead, gauge following distance, and make out changes in the road. 

The best strategy for preventing rear-end collisions in foggy weather is to slow down, drive with increased caution, and use your low beam lights or fog lights if you have them. Do not use your emergency flasher or hazard lights, as flashing lights can disorientate other drivers in low visibility conditions. 

Determining fault for auto accidents in fog can be tricky, but the onus is still on the rear vehicle to avoid driving into a car up ahead. If the fog is too thick for a driver to make out other vehicles, it is their responsibility to pull over in a safe place and wait until conditions improve.

There are, however, some factors that can shift partial liability to the front vehicle. For instance, if a preceding car failed to turn its headlights on, this would make it far less likely that you’d be able to see the car in thick fog. Something like this should reduce some of your legal responsibility.

Faulty Lights

Faulty headlights aren’t a significant cause of rear-end collision accidents. But if a car is driving at night (or in heavy rain or fog) without its lights on, there’s a significant chance that another vehicle might accidentally run into it. 

Because Illinois is a comparative negligence state, these types of rear-end collision accidents will usually find shared liability.

Mechanical Failure

Like faulty headlights, mechanical failure isn’t a leading cause of rear-end fender benders, but it can result in some nasty collisions. 

If the vehicle in front of you experiences mechanical failure, as the following driver, you’re responsible for compensating and avoiding them if possible. However, there are some cases where it might be hard to safely avoid a vehicle that’s out of control. 

If you experience mechanical issues, such as brake failure, this is one time when you aren’t automatically liable for a rear-end collision. However, you will need to provide water-tight proof that your brakes unexpectedly, unforeseeable failed. 

Even partial brake failure can bring liability back to the rear-end driver. It might be deemed that if you had been paying more attention, you could have compensated and avoided the vehicle in front of you. 

If brake failure caused you to rear-end another vehicle, you need to make your claim right away. You should also announce immediately on the scene of the accident that your brakes failed. You shouldn’t drive your car away, as this would be illegal and dangerous, and nullify your claim. 

A qualified mechanic will also need to examine your brakes directly after the accident. If you wait a few weeks to have this done, the other party could claim that you had them tampered with to avoid liability.

Have You Been Involved in a Rear-End Collision?

Rear-end collisions are very common and can cause extensive injuries and damage. There are many ways drivers can go about preventing rear-end collisions, but it doesn’t matter how well you drive, there’s always a chance that you might wind up in a rear-end crash. 

Have you been in a rear-end collision? Whether you’re the rear or the front driver, it’s vital that you get a rear-end collision lawyer on your side as soon as possible. 

We specialize in vehicle accident cases and DUIs and are available 24/7. Contact us today and let us know how we can defend your legal interests.

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